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Corbett: Remarks on gay marriage not meant to offend

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Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 8:36 a.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett apologized on Friday for comments he made comparing a same-sex marriage with a marriage of a brother and sister, but some of those pushing for gay marriage in Pennsylvania are fuming.

“This is just so off the wall, this comment,” said Gary Van Horn, president of Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, an advocacy group for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. “I'm actually speechless that you would compare two loving people to incest. It just shocks me.”

Corbett, R-Shaler, was on WHP-TV in Harrisburg speaking about gay marriage in the morning when an anchor asked about a statement his lawyers made in a recent court filing comparing the marriage of gay couples with the marriage of children because neither can legally wed in Pennsylvania.

“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know,” the governor said. “I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?”

Corbett later apologized, saying his “words were not intended to offend anyone.” The comment was meant to provide an example of the categories of people who are not legally entitled to obtain marriage licenses in the state.

“It's quite obvious that once again the governor's mouth got out in front of his brain,” said state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, who called the comment outrageous and extremely offensive. “The good Lord gave him two ears and one mouth. He should listen more than he speaks.”

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Corbett, seeking to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, refused to defend the state law, prompting Corbett to bring in his own attorneys.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, believes Corbett's intentions in using the comparison were clear. State law defines who can marry, he said: Brothers and sisters cannot marry. Children cannot marry. People of the same sex cannot marry.

“I think all the press on it is kind of shocking to me,” he said. “I think it's creating controversy where it didn't really exist. The controversy is the homosexual community trying to redefine for our country, our culture, for the whole world what marriage really is.”

Comparisons between homosexuality and other “unnatural acts” were once common, said James Wilson, the executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York.

Former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum compared homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality in a 2003 interview with an Associated Press reporter. Santorum later said his words were taken out of context.

“Incest is still very much a taboo subject where gay marriage is not a taboo subject,” Wilson said. “I think most reasonable people, including people we wouldn't have expected to come around so quickly, like members of the Catholic church, would take offense to such a comment.”

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference declined to comment on the governor's statement.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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